Last Tango in Halifax - review: Is Sally Wainwright's series getting too dramatic?

Episode 3: This week viewers were plunged from the heights of joy into the depths of despair all in the space of an hour

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The Independent Culture

Writer Sally Wainwright really knows how to hit you where it hurts.

Tonight is particularly painful with a shocking conclusion that will send most viewers reeling: is Kate (Nina Sosanya) really dead? She and Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) only got married at the beginning of the episode! But it’s all over before it even began.

In Last Tango in Halifax the drama never ends and that’s no bad thing. We are repeatedly floored by new developments which it is impossible to see coming. It’s challenging to try and keep up with so many different story elements but that’s why this programme is so engaging.

Most of these twists and turns in the plot have been to the benefit of the series but perhaps it was too soon to kill off Kate. Watching a lesbian marriage flourish (or not – this is Last Tango, after all) would have been gratifying. It really is a shame to have cut off this relationship in such a brutal manner.

 

Although Wainwright has been praised for her social commentary, things are becoming so far-fetched that even the most dedicated fans are starting to have to suspend our disbelief more than usual. There’s only so much tragedy that can befall one family in such a short space of time. 

Within the short space of three episodes we’ve been confronted with the secret lovechild, a late-term miscarriage, an argument between Alan (Derek Jacobi) and Celia (Anne Reid), Gillian’s two proposals, and now Kate’s untimely death. Frankly, we’re emotionally exhausted.

Needless to say, there’s unlikely to be a dry eye in the living room after tonight’s latest development – and probably plenty more tears next week. Now where did I put those tissues?

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